Here's our 'Make in India' wish list, Peugeot and Citroën

Now that the PSA Group and the CK Birla Group are coming together to assemble and sell cars in India, it paves way for two 'so-far-elusive' automotive brands to pique our interests. We are talking about Peugeot and Citroën here, both owned by the PSA Group of France. You might argue that Peugeot's India story has been a soap opera of sorts so far but, this time around, they appear to be pretty darn serious about it. 

While details are still under wraps, that doesn't stop us from pondering over the model lineup of the two brands and prepare our wish list for them to consider. Let's start with, well, Peugeot.


Peugeot isn't unknown in India. Unfortunately, they are remembered more for the wrong reasons than for the right ones. Nobody we spoke to seem to remember Peugeot's whiny yet frugal 1.5-liter diesel engine that powered the erstwhile Zen D, Esteem D and Accent DLS. But, almost every one of them could recollect the French brand's unceremonious first stint in India that ended as soon as it began. As daunting as it seems, Peugeot's international lineup appears to have just the right models that could help the brand overcome these hurdles and make an impact in the Indian market. 

Just like the rest of the world, SUVs and crossovers are the fastest growing segments here in India. A brand yearning to arrive in style and create a stir should look no further than launching one of these here. This is where Peugeot could make a difference as they have not one but two very competent crossovers to choose from. 

Based on an all-new platform that's stronger, lighter and more agile, the 3008 is the bigger of the two that competes with the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson in Europe. This newest crossover in Peugeot's lineup has received rave reviews from the critics globally and would be a nice 'image-booster' offering to start with in India. With a price tag that's expected to hover around INR 20 - 30 Lakhs, the 3008 would be strictly limited in its reach and appeal though.

On the contrary, the 2008 is the one that could make Peugeot popular in India. Spun off the 208, the 2008 is smaller than the 3008 and comparable in size to the Renault Duster and Hyundai Creta. In fact, the Duster is what the 2008 competes with in Europe and there is no reason why it can't do the same here in India. If priced sensibly, the 2008 could turn out to be that one big hit the folks at PSA head-quarters in France badly want.

If it intends to make up for the time lost, gain market share and go full throttle, the 108 and 208 hatchbacks are what Peugeot should be looking to bring in. The 108 is a city car that's priced in the whereabouts of Hyundai i10 in Europe. It is smaller than what you, me and most other Indian families prefer though. That's where the 208 comes in. Bigger, better and more stylish than it's sibling, this premium hatchback can take the fight to the i20 and Baleno. For that to happen, the 208 should have a high local content and, crucially, an aggressive price tag.

While the aforementioned models were all designed and developed to cater to highly-demanding Europeans, Peugeot also has a car that's tailor-made for the emerging markets. Say hello to the 301! We bet this car is an integral part of Peugeot's plans for India already and wouldn't be surprised if the 301 becomes the launchpad for the brand in 2020. If and when it gets here, this midsize sedan would rival the Honda City and Maruti-Suzuki Ciaz and possibly positioned in the same price bracket. Problem is, the current 301 is already 4 years old. Peugeot would do well considering the next-generation 301 for India as bringing in the current model in 2020 would be akin to flagging a dead horse.

Well, that's five already for Brand Peugeot! Let's stop right here and look at Brand Citroën, shall we? 


One of the perks of owning more than one brand is that there is always another option if one doesn't click. When Opel earned a reputation for being expensive to maintain, GM didn't think twice to shut down the brand and replace it with Chevrolet. 

PSA is in a similar position. If the top honchos decide that Peugeot's tarnished brand image would be too much to handle in an often unforgiving market like India, Citroën could be the one leading PSA's charge. Since the two brands effectively have the same portfolio wrapped in different external forms, PSA has a real chance of getting away with what happened in the past.

In that case, the best bet would be to bring in the C1 and C3 hatchbacks. The C1 is nothing but a 108 underneath while the C3 is just a different-looking 208. If these two hatchbacks prove to be too expensive for our market, the C4 Cactus, Citroën's take on the Peugeot 2008 crossover, is another option. 

While its true Citroën does not carry the negative baggage from the past like Peugeot, they come with their own set of challenges. In a conservative market like ours, the unconventional, often-weird, love-it or hate-it styling of the Citroëns could prove to be a dampener. Their premium positioning relative to Peugeot is yet another thorn in the bush. 

But hey, it could work out well for PSA. 

Now that we are done with our wishlist, let's wait and see how many of these are fulfilled. 


Believe it or not, Peugeot might be back in India by 2020

Peugeot may not be manufacturing and selling cars in India right now but they have a storied history with our country. The first time they were here in the nineties, Peugeot shut shop and exited due to a botched joint-venture with the erstwhile Premier Automobiles Limited (PAL). The 309, their sole offering at the time, had been received well with backlogs stretching into hundreds, if not thousands. The sudden decision from PAL and Peugeot to call off the joint-venture left the investors and the customers in the lurch with Peugeot's brand reputation taking a royal beating.

When the folks at PSA, the parent company that owns Peugeot and Citroen brands, decided the time was ripe for Peugeot to come back to India, Sanand in Gujarat was chosen as the location for setting up the plant. Well, this time, it didn't move beyond press releases and participation at the Auto Expo as the prevailing financial crisis in Europe left PSA with no cash reserves for a substantial investment in India. They tried to ink a deal with General Motors to use the latter's facilities to roll out the 207 and the 508 but, for reasons best known to the them, the deal didn't go through.

India is too big a market for car-makers to ignore and with hopes of a fresh start, the PSA Group has now entered into an agreement with the CK Birla Group, which owns Hindustan Motors (HM). Two joint-venture agreements have reportedly been signed, one for the assembly and distribution of cars with PSA holding the majority stake and the other a 50:50 joint-venture with AVTEC Limited, a HM subsidiary, to manufacture and supply powertrains for PSA vehicles. HM's facility at Thiruvallur near Chennai and AVTEC's plant at Hosur are likely to be the locations for the two ventures.

This agreement is claimed to be a long-term partnership between the two conglomerates with a claimed initial investment to the tune of 100 Million Euros (Rs.700 Crore). The first cars from this joint-venture are expected to roll out by 2020.

The sign-off was done in Paris yesterday in the presence of Mr. Carlos Tavares, Chairman of the Managing Board of PSA Group and Mr. CK Birla, Chairman of the CK Birla Group.

While we are glad about Peugeot's potential re-entry and Citroen's debut here in the country, what's going to be crucial is PSA sticking to their words and being committed to the Indian market. Our country is unforgiving. Ask Fiat, who has never really recovered from a disastrous joint-venture with PAL in the nineties despite their continuous efforts all these years backed by wonderful products. We hope the folks at PSA aren't heading down the same path and are actually serious about India this time around.

That said, with their distinct and quirky styling, Peugeots and Citroens would certainly make Indian roads more interesting to look at!


Tata Hexa launched in India, prices start at INR 11.99 Lakhs

After a series of delays, Tata Motors finally launched the much-awaited Hexa in India yesterday. After the Aria, the Hexa is Tata's second attempt at the premium crossover segment and locks horns squarely with the Mahindra XUV 5OO. First shown to the public at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show, the Hexa has been a long time coming.

Tata has played it smart with the Hexa's styling, making sure the crossover stays away from MPV-ish looks as much as possible. When viewed from the front, the clamshell hood with the prominent power bulge, the blacked-out projector headlights and the solid plastic cladding in the bumper gives the Hexa an imposing look. Tata's excellent attention to detail stands out too, like in the hexagonal meshes that form the grille. While the arching roofline, the blacked-out pillars, the full-length cladding and the massive 19-inch alloy wheels try their best to mask it, the Hexa's MPV roots are still evident in profile. At the rear, a thick chrome bar connects horizontally-stacked LED taillights. 

As posted before, we had been to the Hexa Experience Centre and can vouch for the fact that the Hexa's interiors are easily the best we have seen on a Tata so far. The clean, minimalist design looks European and the build quality is solid. What's more, the Hexa comes loaded with features too. Projector headlights, dual front airbags, power-folding mirrors, 6-speaker infotainment system, steering-mounted audio controls, cooled glovebox and tilt steering are standard across the range. 

The top-end variant gets a whole lot more including automatic climate control, heated mirrors, 3 Super Drive modes, reverse parking sensors, Voice Command Recognition, side and curtain airbags, Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with Rollover Mitigation, Traction Control System (TCS), Hill Hold and Hill Descent Control, Cruise Control, 10-speaker infotainment system, automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, leather seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Available in both six and seven-seat configurations, the Hexa is powered by the 2.2-liter VARICOR diesel engine in two states of tune. While the base variant gets 148 horsepower and 320 Nm of torque, the other variants in Hexa's lineup gets the higher state of tune with 154 horsepower and a solid 400 Nm of torque. The former is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission while the latter is paired with either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission. The 6-speed manual gearbox gets 4 driving modes for the driver to choose from -  Auto, Comfort, Dynamic and Rough Road. The automatic variant gets a Sports mode with Race Car function!

Three trim levels are on offer - XE, XM and XT. The XM and XT gets both manual and automatic variants while the 4x4 is exclusive to the top-end XT variant. Prices range from INR 11.99 Lakhs for the XE to INR 17.49 Lakhs for the top-end XT 4x4 variant. At these prices, the Hexa marginally undercuts it's arch-rival from Mahindra while being significantly cheaper than the Toyota Innova Crysta with which we expect some cross-shopping. But Toyota's rock-solid brand image and the XUV5OO's solid fan following would be tough nuts for Tata to crack. After all, we know what happened to the Aria.

Tata was going through a bad phase in India until the Tiago came in and arrested their free fall. With momentum on its side and value-for-money pricing on the base and mid variants, the Hexa is off to a good start. It remains to be seen if Tata can sustain the interest in the Hexa going forward.


We were off to the Tata Hexa Experience, came back impressed

Tata Motors has a lot riding on it's upcoming launch, the Hexa. With the Tiago doing well, the Pune-based car manufacturer finally has something to cheer about and they would be keen to retain the momentum going forward. Moreover, the Hexa is Tata's second attempt at the premium crossover segment after the Aria failed miserably. The pressure, then, is on Tata to get this right. If the pre-launch events are anything to go by, Tatas are leaving no stone unturned to create an impact this time. 

The Hexa Experience Centres that were setup in various cities prior to launch is one of them. We had a chance of experiencing it in Chennai last week when a bunch of Hexas came visiting.

The entry to the venue had three separate counters for online registrations, Bookmyshow bookings and walk-ins. We had registered online through Tata Motors' official website and the entry was seamless. Elsewhere in the hall, a Hexa took centrestage as visitors gathered around to have a look at the new flagship of Tata Motors. The indoor hall also had a host of Tata Group stalls including Croma, Tata Finance, Tata Water Plus and some quick eats as well to keep the visitors engaged. Just outside the hall were a couple of accessorized Hexas parked to attract eyeballs. With it's blacked-out exteriors, the Hexa Tuff looked particularly inviting.  

The well-organized drive event was split into two parts - an 'Off-road Experience' with Tata experts behind the wheel and a short test drive around the venue. While it was disappointing to not unleash the Hexa off-road ourselves, we couldn't fault Tata. With limited cars and little room for error in the course specifically set up for the event, they had to keep us visitors in check. 

The track had been designed to demonstrate the capabilities of the Hexa off the beaten track and, having experienced it, we have to admit the newest Tata crossover didn't fail to impress. 

Starting the course were a pair of axle-twisters to showcase Hexa's articulation capabilities. With the trained hands and legs of Tata-appointed professionals behind the wheel, the Hexa cleared the axle-twisters with little fuss, albeit scaring some first-time visitors a bit.

Next up were a set of solid blocks that utilized the full 200 mm ground clearance of the Hexa. There was nary a struggle in going past this, errr, obstacle. Bring on those speed breakers, we say!

The top-end variants of the Hexa gets Traction Control System (TCS) as standard which worked flawlessly through a set of rumblers that were placed next on the course. As soon as the system sensed loss of traction on the front left wheel, it ensured there was enough traction on the other wheels to keep the vehicle going steady without wheelspin.

The next set-up was easily the crowd's favourite, an arched ramp to demonstrate Hexa's Hill Hold Control and Hill Descent Control features. The professionals driving the Hexas stopped at the right places to explain the occupants on the usefulness of these features in the tricky conditions. While it's true that most of the potential Hexa owners aren't likely to venture off-road ever, these features will come in handy on those bumper-to-bumper traffic scenarios or the unscientific ramps that dot our malls and hotels.

As soon as we descended the ramp, a side incline of 40 degrees welcomed us. The Hexa had no qualms in negotiating it though. 

With a fantastic 400 Nm of torque available from as low as 1700 rpm, the Hexa was then driven through a flight of stairs that the crossover dismissed with aplomb.

What's off-roading without splashing some mud and water? We did that next with the Hexa wading through more than 400 mm of muddy water. A couple of other minor obstacles later, we reached the end of the course.

A short test drive in and around the venue was also offered and we got behind the wheel of the Hexa XTA, the top-end automatic variant. Despite it not lasting long enough to form our opinions, the short test drive highlighted Hexa's strengths and, of course, weaknesses, quite easily. 

  • First up, the interiors are the best seen on a Tata vehicle yet.
  • The gear ratios in the automatic transmission are well tuned with the Hexa never leaving us wanting in the short drive that we had.
  • For those one-off nights to have fun, the Sports Mode with Race Car Function is good enough. It holds gears and sounds sweet to the ears too!
  • Steering is heavy at parking speeds and gains weight as speeds build up.
  • Handling is predictable with a hint of body roll around corners. In the short test drive that we had, it wasn't scary.
  • Ride quality, like in most Tata vehicles, is superb with the road irregularities hardly filtering into the Hexa's cabin.
  • We sorely missed paddle shifters, more so in the Sports Mode.
  • For such a feature-loaded car, omission of push button start is startling.
  • Space is abundant in the first two rows with the third row easily capable of accommodating two medium-sized adults.
  • The captain seats in the second row is supremely comfortable. If we were to go on a long road trip in the Hexa, this is where we would be perched!
  • Even with all three rows in place, there is still decent space in the boot for a weekend family trip.

By this time tomorrow, the Hexa would have been officially launched and we wish Tata well for it's success. The Hexa can sell on it's own merits but a value-for-money price tag would make the deal sweeter and the XUV5OO sweatier. Over to you, Tata.


Maruti-Suzuki launches Ignis, goes after the millennials

Maruti-Suzuki's latest salvo in the hatchback space, the Ignis, was launched in India earlier today. Aimed at the young and the young-at-heart, the funky and compact Ignis would be the third product after the S-Cross and the Baleno to be sold exclusively through the premium Nexa sales channel.

Armed with a fresh and bold design approach with a host of retro touches that mimic popular Suzukis of the past, the Ignis is designed to attract stares on the road. Having said that, it's a clear love-it or hate-it affair. The single frame grille that encompasses the cool LED projector headlights, for instance, looks great while the retro-styled rear end is not designed to please everyone. Nevertheless, the Ignis is an eyeball-grabber and almost passes off as a mini SUV with its negligible overhangs, slim plastic cladding and tall stance. Adding to its appeal are the tasteful application of chrome, stylish alloys and the dual-tone colour options available.

The interiors are equally funky and unlike anything you have seen in a Maruti-Suzuki. Finished in black and ivory, the dual-tone dashboard gets a refreshingly new steering wheel, a nifty infotainment screen that looks like a bolt-on addition and a cool retro-themed center console with toggle switches for the air-conditioning system. While the base variants are left wanting in terms of features, the top-end Ignis is loaded to the hilt with features like automatic climate control, keyless entry and go, SmartPlay infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, electrically-foldable mirrors, puddle lamps, split-folding rear seat, steering-mounted controls and rear parking sensors with camera. 

What's impressive is the standard safety kit that include dual front airbags, seat belts with pre-tensioners, Antilock Braking System with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), ISOFIX child seat anchorage system and speed-sensing door locks. 

Adding that special 'classic' touch, both externally and internally, is the Suzuki Progressive Triad, a set of three parallel stripes that you cannot miss!

Powering the Ignis are the same set of engines that power a host of other Maruti-Suzuki models - the 1.2-liter K-series petrol engine that generates 83 horsepower and 113 Nm of torque and the Fiat-sourced 1.3-liter DDiS diesel engine that churns out 75 horsepower and 190 Nm of torque. A 5-speed manual gearbox is paired with both the engines while the option of adding an Automated Manual Transmission (AMT), or 'Auto Gear Shift' in Maruti-Suzuki's terminology, is also available.

Ignis is available in four trim levels - Sigma, Delta, Zeta and Alpha. The petrol variants are priced between INR 4.59 and 6.69 Lakhs while the diesel variants retail at prices between INR 6.39 and 7.80 Lakhs. All prices are introductory and ex-showroom Delhi. 

At these prices, the Ignis doesn't play the value card that most of it's stablemates do. Instead, this car tries to appeal to the millenials who don't mind spending that little extra to stand out in the crowd. 

At these prices, the Ignis has just about enough gap to the bigger Baleno sharing the Nexa showroom space and it will be interesting to see how Maruti-Suzuki positions the new Swift when it makes it here, albeit to Maruti-Suzuki showrooms.


2017 Detroit - Kia stuns with the Stinger GT

Back in 2011, Kia made public its aspirations to build a Gran Turismo, or a grand tourer to you and me, in the form of the GT Concept. It has taken five long years for that aspiration to come to fruition. But the end product appears to be well worth the wait. Say hello to the aptly-named Stinger GT, Kia's very own sexy and sporty grand tourer!

Unveiled at the 2017 North American International Motor Show in Detroit yesterday, the Stinger GT takes Kia into a territory the brand has never been before. The car, therefore, had to make an impact. The Stinger GT does, and how? 

Let's begin with the proportions. Imagine a grand tourer and things that flash in your mind would be a negligible front overhang, long hood, extra long wheelbase and a low and wide stance. Kia has incorporated every one of them in the Stinger GT and slapped a fastback shape onto it as well. While we don't deny that the overall design reminds us of the previous-generation Optima, the end result is undoubtedly impressive. The trademark 'Tiger Nose' grille is flanked on either sides by sleek LED headlights and scooped out air dams beneath them. Hinting at the car's sporty intentions are the twin hood vents, fender vents, an integrated bootlid spoiler and a full-length rear diffuser with quad exhausts. 

Kia's designers have paid excellent attention to detail with the Stinger GT. Look at the slim chrome strip that runs from the A-pillar to the rear windscreen arching over the windows or the classic 'coke bottle' shape in the C-pillars if you are in doubt. It continues inside the cabin too with features like Heads-Up Display, 15-speaker Harmon-Kardon audio system and a stubby gear selector finding their way into the Stinger GT.  

Two engine options are likely, with the base models getting a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 255 horsepower and the higher trims employing the 3.3-liter twin turbo V6 that does duty in the Genesis G90. With 365 horsepower on tap, this engine can propel the Stinger GT from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.1 seconds and on to a top speed of close to 270 km/h. Both engines are paired to a 8-speed automatic transmission that delivers power to either the rear wheels or to all four wheels if you spec your car with the AWD option. Variants with the said option feature brake-based torque vectoring and a mechanical limited slip differential. 

Yes, those specs are from a Kia sedan! Don't you dare tell us Kias are boring and uninspiring to drive again.

The Stinger GT is not just Kia's dreams coming true, rather a coming-of-age moment in the brand's history. Now, when are you landing on Indian shores, Kia?

2017 North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year announced; Chevrolet Bolt, Honda Ridgeline and Chrysler Pacifica are the winners

The North American International Auto Show has just begun in Detroit and, as always, the winners of the 2017 North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year titles have been announced.

These awards are held in high respect by automotive manufacturers due to the way in which they have been designed and structured. Judged by a group of over 60 automotive journalists from the United States of America and Canada covering a host of magazines, newspapers, televison, radio and websites, the North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year titles are awarded based on factors like innovation, design, safety, performance, technology, driver satisfaction and value.

New for 2017 is the Utility Vehicle of the Year award which is now split from the Truck of the Year title, signifying the growing popularity and importance of Sport Utility Vehicles and crossovers.

From dozens of new vehicles that went on sale last year in each category, the jurors has shortlisted three finalists for each of the three titles before zeroing in on the winner. 

In cars, it was the Chevrolet Bolt that came out on top for 2017. With an EPA-certified range of 238 miles on a single charge and prices that start under $30,000 after applying tax credits, the Bolt is trying to take the IC-engined market head-on and take the EV revolution to the next level. It's no wonder then the jurors were mighty impressed with this compact Chevy, handing it the 2017 North American Car of the Year title. That it left it's competent rivals, the Genesis G90 and the Volvo S90, far behind in the final scores speaks for itself. 

2017 NACOTY Results

  1. Chevrolet Bolt - 364
  2. Genesis G90 - 105
  3. Volvo S90 - 101

Previous NACOTY Winners

  • 2016 - Honda Civic
  • 2015 - Volkswagen Golf/GTI
  • 2014 - Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
  • 2013 - Cadillac ATS
  • 2012 - Hyundai Elantra

Moving on to the trucks, it was the Honda Ridgeline that beat rivals like the Ford F-Series Super Duty and the Nissan Titan to be crowned the 2017 North American Truck of the Year. The midsize pickup from Honda impressed the jurors with its smoother ride, thanks to the car-style chassis, and innovative features like a trunk under its cargo bed and a double-hinged tailgate that opens down or from the side. With 364 points in its kitty, the Ridgeline made it a no contest with the Ford and the Nissan that ended up with 193 and 72 points respectively.

2017 NATOTY Results

  1. Honda Ridgeline - 364
  2. Ford F-Series Super Duty - 193
  3. Nissan Titan - 72

Previous NATOTY Winners

  • 2016 - Volvo XC90
  • 2015 - Ford F-150
  • 2014 - Chevrolet Silverado
  • 2013 - Ram 1500
  • 2012 - Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

Winning the inaugural North American Utility Vehicle of the Year title is the Chrysler Pacifica. At a time when minivans are down and out and manufacturers are getting out of the segment as soon as they can, Chrysler had the guts to go all out on a stylish new model and slap a plug-in hybrid powertrain in it. With an electric range of 35 miles on a single charge, the Pacifica can do daily driving duties without the need to fill in fuel. Mazda CX-9 and Jaguar F-Pace were the other finalists that vied for top honours. 

2017 NAUOTY Results

  1. Chrysler Pacifica - 300
  2. Mazda CX-9 - 135
  3. Jaguar F-Pace - 125

Congratulations to the winners.


Top Selling Cars in 2016 - India

Thanks to a variety of socio-economic and political factors, 2016 was not a year to remember for the Indian automotive industry. But, with the odd-even policy, partial ban on new diesel vehicles and the demonetization, it could have been much worse and we are glad it wasn't. 

In a flat year that saw a little over 2.9 million new cars and utility vehicles being sold, here is how the top twenty stacked up.

With a sales figure of 245,094 units that include both the 800 and K10 variants, Maruti-Suzuki Alto was India's best-selling car. Be it the tentative first-time car buyers, the young urban dwellers looking for a compact city car or the rural folks who won't look beyond a Maruti dealership when it's time to buy a new car, the Alto has struck a chord with every one of them. In fact, for most of the people out there, the Alto is the quintessential car. It is no wonder then that this little Suzuki has completed yet another year at the top of the sales chart, a feat it first achieved in 2004. But, with a 10% drop compared to 2015 and the Kwid gaining ground, Maruti-Suzuki can't afford to rest.

Just like 2015, the Swift Dzire came in second, beating several lower-priced Maruti-Suzukis in the process. In the last year of its life cycle, this car was so dominant that it sold more than the combined sales of all of it's competitors. Take that, rivals. With the next-generation model expected to launch later this year, expect more of the same in the coming years. The 'tall boy' Wagon-R has swapped places with its stablemate Swift with the former rounding off the podium position. Despite being an old nameplate, Maruti-Suzuki's constant updates and facelifts, albeit minor, have ensured the Wagon-R is still relevant in the market.

Down to number four, the Swift had a significant 19% drop in sales but again, the all-new Swift is slated for launch this year. Arch-rival Hyundai took advantage of this and grew the Grand i10's share which finished 2016 in fifth position at the expense of it's more expensive sibling, the i20. Crucially though, the Hyundai retained the lead in it's slugfest with Maruti-Suzuki's Baleno which had capacity constraints affecting sales throughout the year. With a little over 92,000 units sold last year, Hyundai Creta is now India's best-selling SUV. Rounding off the top ten is the Celerio, a no-nonsense car from the market leader.

Did we talk about the Kwid? Oh no, how could we miss that? The Kwid has been a phenomenal success and has single-handedly catapulted Renault into the big league. For the first time in several years, a Mahindra or a Honda isn't in the top ten. But this Renault is! More importantly, by going head-on against the Alto and emerging successful, the Kwid has proved that Maruti-Suzuki's entry-level hatchback is vulnerable too. 2016 also saw new variants being added to the Kwid lineup which is a good thing. Overall, it's been a job well done by Renault.

Just outside the top ten is the Vitara Brezza which also suffers from production constraints similar to the Baleno. 2017 should see it getting into the top ten easily though. Four more models from Maruti-Suzuki (Omni, Eeco, Ertiga and Ciaz) and two more from Hyundai (Eon and Xcent) have found their way into the top twenty. Toyota Innova, Mahindra Bolero and Honda City are the only models in the list without a Suzuki or Hyundai badge on the nose. While the Innova Crysta is going stronger and stronger, the Bolero and City are on a free fall. It's time for Mahindra and Honda to act!


Top Selling Cars in 2016 - USA

Auto industry in the United States of America just wrapped up a fantastic 2016 that saw more than 17.5 million new vehicles being sold. In a market where 250 plus models from over 35 brands are on sale, it's tough to really make an impact. But some cars, SUVs and trucks keep doing that year after year. 

Here are 20 of them that went full throttle in 2016, ending the year as America's best-selling vehicles.

With a whopping 820,799 units sold last year, it was another year at the top for the Ford F-Series trucks. Incredibly, 2016 was F-Series' 40th year as America's best-selling truck and an unprecedented 35th year as America's best-selling vehicle. A dream run that started way back in 1977 is well on course to extend into 2017 and beyond. It requires something extraordinary from Ford's rivals to dethrone the F-Series. 

In second and third positions are the Chevrolet Silverado and Ram Pick-Up trucks, unchanged from the previous years. While it's 574,876 sales in 2016 might make you believe that the Silverado trailed the Ford significantly, bring GMC Sierra's sales into the picture and it's clear Ford has to keep a close watch on the Chevy-GMC twins.

Behind the three trucks, the Japanese brands take over with three Toyotas, three Hondas and two Nissans occupying spots 4 to 11. Despite being in its last full year of production, the current generation Camry is still America's best-selling car but the Corolla and Honda Civic are now literally breathing down Camry's neck. At number seven, Honda CR-V is the best-selling SUV in the United States with the Toyota RAV-4 just 5,000 units shy. Honda's Accord has dropped down the order and finished the year in ninth position. At number ten was Nissan Rogue, a new-comer to the top ten list.

Outside the top ten, Ford has three entries in Escape, Fusion and Explorer while Nissan (Altima and Sentra) and Chevrolet (Equinox and Malibu) have two models each. GMC Sierra, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Hyundai Elantra complete the list.


Top Selling Car Brands in 2016 - India

Contrary to popular predictions, the Indian market experienced a flat year in 2016 as a host of factors wreaked havoc in the fortunes of the automotive industry. Remember the odd-even rule that greeted New Delhi residents as they stepped into the New Year last time around? Or the ban on diesel vehicles with engines above 2000 cc in the National Capital Region (NCR)? Or, most recently, the demonetization that came out of the blue last November? Well, all these meant new car sales in India hardly grew in 2016, closing the year with just over 2.9 million unit sales.

Much to our dismay and quite unlike the United States of America where there is a healthy split of market share amongst the competing brands, the Indian market has been utterly dominated by Maruti-Suzuki for decades now. Was 2016 any different? Was it a walk in the park as usual for the leaders or did any ‘up and coming’ brand managed to disrupt the best-sellers on their home turf? The answer is yes and yes. Read on, to find how.

Excluding luxury brands and some mainstream brands like Force Motors whose sales figures aren’t declared regularly, there are 15 brands vying for attention in India. Here’s how the top ten list looked like in 2016. 

Top 10 Car Brands in 2016 - India

The Top 3 Brands 

There are no surprises at the top. Maruti-Suzuki remains the undisputed king of the Indian car market. In fact, the Indo-Japanese brand recorded a whopping 52% market share for the month of November, their highest ever. While the traditional best-sellers like the Alto, Swift Dzire, Swift and Wagon-R continued to make merry, what really boosted Maruti-Suzuki was their recent launches, the Baleno and Vitara Brezza. Both these models have been runaway hits and the manufacturing plants can't churn out enough. With the all-new Ignis and replacements for the Swift and Dzire twins waiting in the wings, the popular ‘S’ is all set to massacre the competition this year. Talking of which, rivals seem to have accepted the fact that they are playing for a share in just 50% of the Indian market. Take a bow, Maruti-Suzuki!

Traditional runner-up Hyundai ended 2016 in the same position it ended 2015. And 2014. And 2013. You get the point, right? Hyundai is stuck in a no man’s land. With Maruti-Suzuki untouchable ahead of them, Mahindra and the rest of the chasing pack are far behind to mount any sort of threat. With no high-volume new launches last year, it was the Grand i10, i20 and Creta that kept the Korean car-maker going. The Elantra and the Tucson are both off to a good start in the premium segment and Hyundai's domestic sales crossed 500,000 units for the first time ever, a remarkable feat. While all that is good, who will tell Hyundai that they need Kia's assistance now for that next phase of growth? 

Mahindra came next, retaining their third position in 2016. That's remarkable, given the fact that their lineup predominantly consists of diesel-only Utility Vehicles that bore the brunt of the diesel ban. If you factor in the demand slump due to demonetization in the rural parts of the country, a traditional Mahindra stronghold, it was a double whammy for the Indian manufacturer. While they managed to grow sales despite all of that, a cause of concern for Mahindra would be the way their new launches have been received. The NuvoSport sank without a trace while the response to the TUV3OO and KUV1OO can at best be termed average. 

The Rest of the Top Ten

Honda too has retained its fourth position in 2016 but we can't help but notice the steep fall in sales vis-a-vis 2015, a massive 23%. Maruti-Suzuki's Ciaz has dethroned the City while the Amaze and BR-V have fell short of expectations. The less said about the Brio and the Mobilio, the better. Honda's lineup needs a revamp. Tata jumped Toyota to finish 2016 in the top five. After a string of flops, the Tiago's success should be a welcome relief for Tata. Crucially, things are looking brighter than ever with impressive new launches lined up in the form of Hexa, Nexon and the yet-to-be-named Tiago-based compact sedan.

They might have ended 2016 outside the top five but the phenomenal success of the Innova Crysta and the new Fortuner proves Toyota's brand pull is second to none. Renault is the star of the top ten list with a staggering 147% growth over 2015. The Kwid has proved that the Alto can be challenged after all! Despite competent products in its kitty, Ford had a modest run last year with the success of the Endeavour and the iconic Mustang being their bright spots. Volkswagen and Datsun rounded off the top ten with the Ameo and the redi-Go respectively saving them both from an embarrassing year. Interestingly, Datsun is now ahead of its parent Nissan in sales!

Luxury Car Brands

In the luxury scheme of things, Mercedes-Benz continued to rule the roost ahead of fellow German rivals, Audi and BMW. With a spate of launches across segments and a striking new design language, the three pointed star has endeared itself to the luxury car buyers in India. With the new E-Class slated for launch shortly, Audi and BMW have no chance to dethrone Mercedes-Benz in 2017, we think.


Top Selling Car Brands in 2016 - USA

Now that 2016 is behind us and car-makers have declared their full year results, it is time to look at the best-sellers in the automotive industry. 

The United States of America, a  critical place for car-makers owing to the potential profit that the market generates, is where we are starting this with. After all, the dollars earned in the United States are what most car-makers use to pay off the engineers and technicians working hard across Europe, Japan and South Korea, designing, developing and testing cars, crossovers, utility vehicles and trucks that make it to the launch floor every year.

2016 was a fantastic year for the automotive industry in the United States of America, with over 17.5 million vehicles sold on the back of affordable gas prices, easy financing options and overall positive sentiments in the market. 

With more than 35 individual car brands vying for a share of the big American pie, here is a look at 2016’s top-selling brands.

Top 10 Car Brands in 2016 - USA

The Top 3 Brands 

For the seventh straight year, it was Ford that ended up as the best-selling automobile brand in the United States. If that isn’t impressive enough, the F-Series finished the year as America’s best-selling automobile for a record 40th consecutive year. One out of three Fords sold was a F-Series, such was its dominance! To add to that, all Ford SUVs barring the Explorer and all Ford Trucks barring the Transit Connect grew their sales in 2016 compared to 2015. The cars wearing the Blue Oval brand were down significantly though, losing more than 100,000 units year over year. 

As they did in 2015, Toyota and Chevrolet rounded off the podium in 2016 as well. While Toyota achieved this result without any big-selling pickups in its lineup, Chevrolet had a massive dose of helping from its Silverado and Colorado trucks that together contributed 683,601 units, one-third of Chevy’s total sales. For Toyota, it was the usual Camry and Corolla that made up big numbers with the RAV4 pitching in with a significant chunk. 

Though all three top-selling brands have lost sales in 2016 vis-à-vis 2015, their cumulative market share of 38% gave them an edge over the chasing pack.

The Rest of the Top 10

In no man’s land after the top three are Honda and Nissan. While the Accord and Civic continued their strong run, record sales from the CR-V and a strong show by the HR-V helped Honda post a 4.8% gain over 2015. Lest we forget, the CR-V is America’s best-selling SUV! With a 5.5% growth over 2015, Nissan bettered Honda in terms of growth though they ended the year breathing down Honda’s neck. The Rogue SUV was Nissan’s top-seller followed by the Altima and Sentra sedans.

Jeep’s lineup may be just six models strong but with all of them being in-demand SUVs, they end 2016 as the sixth popular automotive brand. The Korean duo of Hyundai and Kia come next in the pecking order with the Elantra and Soul emerging as best-sellers respectively for the two brands. Subaru, with an all-time yearly sales record and 61st consecutive month of growth, finishes ninth while GMC, Chevrolet’s premium cousin, rounds off the top ten.

With a few exceptions, a common trend observed across all these brands has been the rise in popularity of SUVs and crossovers corresponding with a drop in demand for sedans and hatchbacks. So, Indians aren’t alone in their love for SUVs and SUV lookalikes!

Luxury Car Brands

Amongst luxury brands, it was Mercedes-Benz that finished 2016 on top with their best annual sales ever in America. Striking new models, an ever-expanding lineup of SUVs and a host of new coupes and convertibles meant the 2016 F1 world champions were also the luxury car champions on American roads with a total of 340,237 units sold. 

With sales of 331,228 units and 313,174 units respectively, Lexus and BMW weren't far off the three pointed star, leaving behind the rest of the premium brands.